What you eat has a significant impact on your well-being and health. The same holds true for your risk of developing cancer as well. If you eat healthy foods, then it can reduce your risk of developing cancer. If you are already undergoing treatment for or recovering from cancer, then it is all the more necessary to eat healthy foods, especially fruits. There are many fruits that contain essential health-boosting compounds that have been found to slow down the growth of tumors and also decrease many of the common side effects of cancer treatment. This not only helps ease your recovery process but may even shorten your recovery time. Here are some beneficial fruits to eat during and after cancer treatment.
Fruits Can Be Beneficial For Those With Cancer
If you are undergoing treatment for or recovering from cancer, then what you eat on a daily basis is going to be very important in your recovery process.(1,2) Conventional cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy are known to cause many side effects, some of which are more severe than others.(3,4) These side effects can be improved or even worsened by what you eat and drink during this recovery period.(5,6)
Here are some of the most commonly experienced side effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy:(7,8)
- Changes in appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain while swallowing
- Mouth sores
- Dry mouth
- Mood changes
- Impaired concentration and focus
When you have a nutritious and well-balanced diet during your treatment and recovery process, it provides your body with the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that it needs to sustain itself during your treatment. These nutrients also help you recover from the side effects once your treatment procedure is completed.
Fruits are one such nutritious food you should include in your diet, but it is essential to customize your fruit intake according to your symptoms.
For example, if you are having difficulty in swallowing or you have developed mouth sores, then having fruit smoothies or pureed fruits can be a good option. On the other hand, if you are experiencing chronic constipation, consuming fruits that are high in fiber content can help promote regular bowel movement.
At the same time, you also need to avoid certain fruits, depending on your symptoms. For example, if you have mouth sores, then you should be avoiding citrus fruits, which may cause more irritation and also worsen the dry mouth sensation.
Similarly, whole fruits such as pears, apricots, and apples can be difficult for people with cancer to consume due to mouth sores, dry mouth, nausea, or painful swallowing.
This is why it is necessary to tailor your fruit choices according to your symptoms.
Fruits To Eat During and After Cancer Treatment
Here are some of the best fruits to include in your diet during and after cancer treatment.
Bananas are great for people who are recovering from cancer. Bananas are easy to swallow for those having painful swallowing, and also contains many essential nutrients, such as manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.(9) Bananas are also beneficial for those who are experiencing diarrhea as a side effect of cancer treatment. This is because bananas are rich in fiber known as pectin.(10,11)
Being rich in potassium, bananas also help replenish the body with lost electrolytes when you have persistent diarrhea or vomiting.
Several test-tube studies have found that pectin can help protect against the growth and spread of colon cancer cells. However, there is a need for more research to show whether pectin in bananas can also slow down the growth of cancer cells in humans.(12,13,14)
Oranges are a common citrus fruit that can help those who are undergoing cancer treatment and recovering from cancer. One medium-sized orange can easily exceed your daily requirements for vitamin C, while also supplying you with several other essential nutrients such as potassium, folate, and thiamine.(15)
As we all know, vitamin C has a major role to play in maintaining our immune system, and oranges can help provide a significant boost to our immunity both during and after cancer treatment.(16,17)
Studies have also found that the regular intake of vitamin C can help decrease the growth and development of cancer cells, while also acting as a therapeutic agent against many types of cancer.(18,19)
Vitamin C present in oranges can also help protect against anemia, a common side effect of cancer treatment chemotherapy by increasing the body’s absorption of iron from foods.
Pomegranates are known to have potent health benefits, making them the perfect addition to your diet during and after cancer treatment. Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C and fiber, and also contain good amounts of folate, potassium, and vitamin K.(20)
Research has shown that eating pomegranates can help boost your memory, which can help those who are affected by some form of impairment in their concentration or focus due to chemotherapy.(21) In fact, a study found that drinking 8 ounces (or 235 ml) of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks can help boost brain activity and bring about significant improvements in memory.(22)
Some studies on animals have also found that pomegranates can decrease joint pain, which is yet another common side effect of chemotherapy.(23,24)
Other Fruits That Can Help During and After Cancer Treatment:
There are several other fruits that you should be consuming regularly during and after your cancer treatment. These include:
- Blueberries: These are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and manganese and have been well-researched for having cancer-fighting properties.(25,26,27) In fact, blueberries are often referred to as the cancer-fighting superfruit.
- Grapefruit: Grapefruit is a powerful source of antioxidants such as lycopene. Lycopene has anti-cancer properties and helps decrease many of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Apples: Apples are rich in potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. All these nutrients help benefit your recovery process after cancer treatment ends. The fiber in apples can help with regular bowel movement.(28)
- Lemons: Test-tube studies have indicated that lemons can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Lemons also help boost your mood and lower your stress levels.(29,30)
- Pears: Being rich in copper, pears also contain anthocyanins. These compounds have been found to decrease cancer growth during test-tube studies.(31)
Eating these fruits can boost your health while you are undergoing cancer treatment and also speed up the recovery process afterward. Fruits are rich in antioxidants that help fight against the growth and spread of cancer cells. They are also known to have many benefits to help relieve many of the common side effects of cancer treatment. Consuming a well-balanced diet and eating these healthy fruits combined with a regular exercise schedule and the right amount of sleep can help you keep your spirits up and get you started on the road to recovery.
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- Shu, X.O., Zheng, Y., Cai, H., Gu, K., Chen, Z., Zheng, W. and Lu, W., 2009. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. Jama, 302(22), pp.2437-2443.
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- Coates, A., Abraham, S., Kaye, S.B., Sowerbutts, T., Frewin, C., Fox, R.M. and Tattersall, M.H.N., 1983. On the receiving end—patient perception of the side-effects of cancer chemotherapy. European Journal of Cancer and Clinical Oncology, 19(2), pp.203-208.
- Dearnaley, D.P., Khoo, V.S., Norman, A.R., Meyer, L., Nahum, A., Tait, D., Yarnold, J. and Horwich, A., 1999. Comparison of radiation side-effects of conformal and conventional radiotherapy in prostate cancer: a randomised trial. The Lancet, 353(9149), pp.267-272.
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- National Cancer Institute. 2020. Radiation Therapy Side Effects. [online] Available at: <https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/radiation-therapy/side-effects> [Accessed 13 July 2020].
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- Xu, L., Yu, W., Jiang, J., Feng, X. and Li, N., 2015. Efficacy of pectin in the treatment of diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Zhonghua wei chang wai ke za zhi= Chinese journal of gastrointestinal surgery, 18(3), pp.267-271.
- Rabbani, G.H., Teka, T., Zaman, B., Majid, N., Khatun, M. and Fuchs, G.J., 2001. Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children. Gastroenterology, 121(3), pp.554-560.
- Olano-Martin, E., Rimbach, G.H., Gibson, G.R. and Rastall, R.A., 2003. Pectin and pectic-oligosaccharides induce apoptosis in in vitro human colonic adenocarcinoma cells. Anticancer research, 23(1A), p.341.
- Tan, H., Chen, W., Liu, Q., Yang, G. and Li, K., 2018. Pectin oligosaccharides ameliorate colon cancer by regulating oxidative stress-and inflammation-activated signaling pathways. Frontiers in immunology, 9, p.1504.
- Leclere, L., Van Cutsem, P. and Michiels, C., 2013. Anti-cancer activities of pH-or heat-modified pectin. Frontiers in pharmacology, 4, p.128.
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- Bookheimer, S.Y., Renner, B.A., Ekstrom, A., Li, Z., Henning, S.M., Brown, J.A., Jones, M., Moody, T. and Small, G.W., 2013. Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.
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